The Pittsburgh Penguins have had only a part-time Mario Lemieux for two seasons. Now they might not have him at all.
Lemieux, one of the greatest scorers and playmakers in hockey history, will likely tell the Penguins this week he isn't healthy enough to play, according to sources close to the team.Lemieux sat out three-quarters of the 1993-94 season following his second back operation in four years.
When he meets with Penguins chairman Howard Baldwin at midweek, Lemieux likely will exercise one of several options:
- Sit out this season, then return in 1995-96 at age 30.
- Miss the first half of the season and try to return sometime after January.
The Penguins have declined comment pending the meeting.
Of the three choices, retiring is the most remote, according to Penguins sources. Lemieux said last May he still enjoys playing.
Lemieux told friends he suffered from anemia, an aftereffect of the radiation treatments he had to fight his Hodgkin's disease.
A deficiency in the oxygen-carrying material of the blood, anemia can occur as long as two years after radiation therapy.
Lemieux is only 28 - he will be 29 in October - but hasn't played more than 59 games in a season since 1988-89.